The Art of Horror and Sonic Pattern Recognition

Paramount Pictures

What’s that thump? It’s like some sort of tell-tale heart.

Sound is the most important factor in horror movies. Jump scares would be nothing without a violin’s shriek accompanying them. But how do they work?

Daniel Cockburn, working with the BFI, creates a video essay designed to scare us with, well, design. By training audience’s ears towards certain sounds, a movie creates tension and, if done well enough, the climax when that tension bursts.

Think of footsteps, think of how musical motifs suddenly drop off before the ghost appears, think about how volume often reflects the amount of light on screen – only inversed. The production side of sound in horror is one of the most fascinating and deep aspects of the genre’s filmmaking and Cockburn’s video delves into technical components with an everyman’s care.

Jacob Oller :Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).